India and France have traditionally had close and friendly relations. The relationship has been positive since India’s independence. After India’s 1998 nuclear tests, France was the first country to initiate a Strategic Dialogue with India. By displaying a greater understanding of India’s security compulsions as compared to other countries, France refused to impose bilateral sanctions on India.
In 1998, the two countries entered into Strategic Partnership which is emblematic of their convergence of views on a range of International issues apart from a close and growing bilateral relationship.
The areas of defense and security cooperation, space cooperation and civil nuclear cooperation constitute the principal pillars of the strategic partnership of both countries.
The major areas of cooperation have been discussed below:
1. GEOPOLITICS IN THE INDO-PACIFIC:
- -French overseas territories in the Indian and the Pacific Oceans provide it with the second-largest exclusive economic zone globally. It has long maintained bases in Reunion Islands and Djibouti and established one in Abu Dhabi in 2009.
- -France is a key ally for India, especially in the case of rising Chinese intervention and militarisation in the region.
- -Cooperation between the two can help in checking Russia’s assertiveness in Europe and China’s assertiveness in Asia, thereby ensuring global stability and world order.
- -Both the nations are also actively engaging to proceed on the Blue Economy project.
2. SPACE AND NUCLEAR PROGRAMME:
- -France helped in setting up the Sriharikota launch site and shared the Centaure and Viking rocket technologies in the 1970s.
- -Joint Satellite Mission TRISHNA is meant for ecosystem monitoring and water use monitoring and it is the 3rd joint mission of ISRO and CNES.
- -In 1984, the US had backed out of agreement to supply nuclear fuel for Tarapur nuclear plant citing domestic legal constraints. France had stepped in then to supply nuclear fuel.
- -An agreement was signed a decade ago for building six European Pressurized (Nuclear) Reactors (EPR) with a total capacity of 9.6 GW.
- -India and France conduct a defense dialogue at the ministerial level.
- -India is looking towards manufacturing and export of emerging and critical defence technologies without any license regime or any legal encumbrances. Under the ‘Make in India’ policy India is looking towards France to make Safran aircraft engines and make air independent propulsion submarines to utilize the already existing manufacturing line at the Naval Dockyards in Mumbai.
- -Joint defense exercises between the Air forces (Garuda series) and the Armies (Shakti), Navies (Varuna) are conducted regularly.India had also joined the French La Perouse exercise for the first time in the Bay of Bengal in May 2021, which even included navies from the other Quad members.
- -Since the 1960s, French aircraft and helicopters have been part of the Indian air fleet (Ouragan, Mystere, Alize, Alouette, Jaguar etc.
- -P-75 Scorpene Dea 2005: An agreement for building six Scorpène submarines under technology transfer at Mazagaon Docks Ltd. in India with French help.
- -The government-to-government agreement for 36 French Rafale multi-role combat aircrafts has taken place.
4. TERRORISM AND RADICALIZATION:
- -It was due to support from key allies like France and US that India managed to black-list several Pak based terrorists by the 1267 Sanctions Committee despite China always coming to aid of Islamabad.
- -India and France have consistently condemned terrorism and have resolved to work together for adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) in the UN.
- -Rising radicalization in the region particularly Afghanistan-Pak region after the rise of Taliban as well as terrorism emanating from Pakistan can be tackled much more effectively with cooperation of both nations.
5. STRATEGIC RELATIONS:
- -France has been supporting India’s claim for permanent membership at UNSC and the reforms of the United Nations.
- -France’s support was vital in India’s accession to the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), Wassenaar Arrangement (WA) and Australia Group (AG).
- -France continues to support India’s bid for accession to the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
6. ECONOMIC RELATIONSHIP:
- -Bilateral trade with France has witnessed a steady rise in the last decade reaching USD 10.75 billion in 2020.
- -France ranks 9th in foreign investment in India.The two sides have recognised the importance of fast tracking the discussions on an India-EU trade and investment agreement.
- -More than 150 Indian companies are operational in France & more than 1000 French companies are present in India with turnover of $20 billion.
7. CLIMATE CHANGE:
- -The International Solar Alliance was launched jointly by India and France.
- -The cooperation between them can be helpful to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement and in implementing the Glasgow Climate Pact.
The strategic partnership between India and France is anchored on the solid bedrock of deep and consistent mutual trust, abiding faith in strategic autonomy, unwavering commitment to international law; and belief in a multipolar world shaped by reformed and effective multilateralism. Both are committed to the shared values of democracy, fundamental freedoms, rule of law and respect for human rights.